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Rackmounting at Home? 204

gnurd asks: "I am toying with the idea of buying a Rackable system for home use. However I'm sure I dont need a 72" cabinet, but i would like a small safe enclosure for a couple of systems. I have had a hard time finding a small (12U) cabinet for home use. anybody try setting up a small racked center at home? Your experience would be appreciated." Would any of the solutions from this past Ask Slashdot discussion help in this case? And has anyone successfully used racks intended for rackable musical instruments to hold servers instead?
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Rackmounting at Home?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    If there were answers in an old Ask Slashdot, then why was this posted to begin with?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    MIDI racks are the same form factor as computer racks. You can get a pretty good MIDI gigging rack fairly cheap. They're from 8U to 16U, they stack well, and they're pretty rugged. Try your local music shop.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you want to buy a rack that is nice but cheap, try Middle Atlantic/Datatel. Their ERK series of racks works quite well, and is not too expensive. They also carry a line of neat rack accessories. Other sources are Rittal, Knurr, Schroff/Hoffman, etc. But those are much more expensive. On the whole, I find that racks designed for servers are more expensive and lesser quality than racks designed for audio equipment.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    When mounting hardware in a 19" rack, if you only have two screws per box put the screws in the bottom holes. Not the top, not one bottom one top. When they are in the bottom, the weight of the box pulls the rack ears against the mounting rails for a firm hold and a well-distributed load.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...and it's not a big commodity product because nobody needs them at home, not even the lamer who started this discussion. jeez, I mean, it's normal for a nice rack to give you a woody, but not when it's measurements are "12U". Puhlease tell us what this is going to be used for. Unix is multitasking, multihosting, multiprocessing, etc. two boxes, ok, or maybe three... but a rack?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Actually you can get rails that will pop into those holes without the screws. Plus if you strip one of those one with the wholes drilled directly into the rack your screwed. Heh, no pun intended.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    There are a few considerations I learned about when I set up my living-room-based rack:
    1) Temperature: Even a few pieces of equipment will boost the temperature of the room where the rack is placed. Beware of closets and other closed spaces since they collect heat and can be so hot in a few hours that your equipment will fry. UPS units make a lot of heat! Have a decent A/C available.
    2) Noise! The rack can act as an echo chamber for equipment noise. The fans run all the time, and they can get irritating 24/7 when the rack is in a living area. You may want to consider low noise power supplies such as the Silencer from PC Power&Cooling [] if the rack will be in a populated room. Also, some of the cooling fans that are actually attached to the rack may cause too much noise.
    3) Power Requirements: I had to install an improved plug in the living room of my apartment just to handle 4 rackmounted systems, a switch and some other peripherals. Be careful if you are planning to plug lots of stuff in as it could be drawing too much current. This would cause your circuit breakers to blow frequently or possibly a fire hazard.
    4) Appearance: I got a lot of flak from my girlfriend when I installed the rack. Since I could not leave it in the closet for temperature reasons I had to put it in the living room, and she didn't like the way it looked. Fortunately, I bought a Middle-Atlantic unit (somewhat pricey, though) which allowed me to add a plexiglass door which made it look a little better. It sits in the corner with a lamp on top and looks okay, though.

    Generally, besides these special concerns for a home rack, it is like any other piece of industrial equipment. I bought it for the specific reason that I run a home-based business and I needed to economize on space. I recommend against buying it unless you have a specific need. Even a single rack because of the above considerations will take some planning and setup work when one could just as well stack up systems on top of one another.

    - John
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There are plenty of options for you. Guitar Center and other music stores (Sam Ash etc.) will sell the rack rails individually, so you can build your own rack out of plywood and cover it if need be. A pair of 12-space rack rails should cost you $20 at most. If you don't feel like building your own, I purchased a black 8-space 19" Middle Atlantic rack enclosure from Full Compass in Wisconsin (no sales tax to CA btw) for $75. If you need casters and shock-mounting the cost of the rack enclosure can skyrocket, but there ARE options if you want to do it the cheap way, for instance, you could check ebay for used rack enclosures. good luck ;) p.s. In general I would steer you away from Guitar Center due to their absolutely pitiful customer service. If you do have trouble buying the rails individually ask for Martin at Full Compass (extension #1179).... and no, I don't work for Full Compass, I'm just a loyal customer offering some decent advice instead of simply flaming the poster (which seems to be the common "advice" of late?). reference:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm surprised nobody has yet mentioned optima []. they make some very nice reasonably priced racks and rack accessories.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Just go to Thats their business, although it's a lot more than just failed .com's. Any company can sell stuff that it's liquidating on this site. What's really funny is when Lockheed Martin decided to liquidate stuff. I believe that most of the auctions are in SF or LA, I can't remember. They're all the same to a Mainer like me.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I built my own rack out of 2 x 4's and some rack rails from Right now I just have 6 1U servers, a 1U router, a 1U switch, and a 1U KMV switch. If you can use a saw, drill, and hammer, you're set.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Head to a larger music store (Mars, Sam Ash, etc).. There's tons of small and mid sized (and nice looking) 19" racks for home studios. Sure maybe the original purpose was for 19" rackmountable FX processors and whatnot, but hey aren't standards wonderful?

    Personally I use a 10RU SKB rack case.. just throw the front and back on and pick the thing up by the handles.. incredible if you need to lug 10U worth of rack gear around every few weeks.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    On the subject of cheap home rack mounting, try an SPM. They come in 2U and 4U configurations On the subject of racks being expensive, one word: tooling. Machineworks is expensive, even if you build the jigs, you have to pay the operator(s), etc. Jim
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 07, 2001 @01:55PM (#101169)
    They are about 5 feet high and are designed for 19" rack equipment. They even have doors on the front and back, holes for volt/amp meters and a speaker! You can get them at hamfests sometimes for free.
  • I have the PC in my home studio racked right with my music gear in my Edit Center []. If you're looking to put a rack into your abode, without it looking ghetto, check out Middle Atlantic's [] offerings. You can find a lot of the stuff that high-end consumer audio installers use there, for a much more reasonable price.

    They make a standalone 24U isolated rack [] that might be just what the doctor ordered.


  • Both my main servers are in here [] (the bottom one has 160 gigs of MP3s.) Got mine from here [] for just under $500 with shipping. I love the little bastard, it's in the corner of my room and doesn't make a sound.

    - A.P.


  • here at the Geek Haus, we have several racks, including a nice looking IBM rack for our entertainment center:

    Server racks []
    Entertainment Racks []

    There are a couple other racks, the central router rack, with cablemodem, cisco routers for internal subnets, and a vlan switch for remote management.
    and another server rack next to the main NOC rack for a couple of servers, and a small clarion raid array.. (just don't ask what our power bills are like.. yikes)
  • These often utilize 19" racks AFAIK, and they are weatherproof and lockable to boot! The downside is that decent real cooling is not very easy to achieve (most traffic signal controllers are designed to have temperature/humidity tolerances that are extreme -- Econolite tests their controllers in an oven), and you'd have a time trying to find a supplier that would sell to an individual. But another avenue to investigate nonetheless, and they come in many sizes (I believe 24" to 72" is about the available height range). Just make sure 19" is the rack size.
  • Try good old radio shack. I was just in there today, and until the 28th of July they have a sale on a nice unit with wheels, a sloped top, and a straight up/down bottom. I don't know how many units, but pretty small. It looked to be plenty sturdy (built for amplifiers)

    Price was $59 on sale. They also had a bigger one which was still less than $100.

    The drawback is that they only have 1 small one per store, if that. So if you don't get the in store one you have to order it from the catalog, and I imagine shipping isn't cheap.
  • Oops.. I found the URL to it in their online catalog. Looks like they don't have them in the online catalog at the moment, so call around! na me=CTLG&category%5Fname=CTLG%5F002%5F003%5F001%5F0 00&product%5Fid=32%2D2010
  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Saturday July 07, 2001 @02:00PM (#101176)
    I know that from doing some research into racks at work for other purposes, that electronic component companies (such as Newark [] offer numerous styles and sizes of racks; Obviously, you want something sturdy so you are going to have to spend a few bucks to get something good, but in terms of sizes, I've seen anywhere from a 16" high rack to 8-9 feet tall ones.

    (Unfortunately, Newark's online catalog is poorly organized, the print version is much easier to follow, IMO).

  • My setup isn't as sophisticated as I'd like, but it gets the wires off the floor. I have two enclosures, an old AT&T DataPhone cabinet (about 1.5m tall by .65m wide by .5m deep) and a free-standing "ladder"-style rack (3m tall, standard width). The DataPhone cabinet holds two DDS-2 tape drives, a keyboard/monitor switch, and four computers: two "pizza box"-style Intergraph TD-40 workstations, a 486 in a standard tower case, and a Packard Bell desktop. The rack holds most of the networking kit in the apartment (both firewalls, the cable modem, an Ethernet hub, the Synoptics chassis, and the Token Ring MAU). The disk array chassis and the UPS remain freestanding.

    The most important reason to throw stuff in a rack is cable management. Common cabling is bundled up neatly and hung off the screw holes on the enclosures. Bundles of CAT-5 cable are snugly wrapped in masking tape every half meter, with Ethernet in a bundle separate from the Token Ring. Power cabling runs up the opposite side of the rack from the data cabling, and I have taken care to cross power and data cables at right angles to minimize cross-talk. Almost everything is labeled neatly. If you want to spend the money, you can color code your cabling (I usually do this when doing wiring jobs for money).

    Be careful when using tie-wraps: They can be cinched too tight and cause internal breaks in delicate wiring (e.g. SCSI or UTP cabling). I usually use wire ties like you get with boxes of trash bags to truss everything in place.

    Make friends with other sysadmins. A friend of mine gave me all sorts of nice telecomms hardware (including the Dataphone cabinet and brackets for running wiring) in trade for helping him clean out his machine room. I regularly go through the trash at work looking for useful items, e.g. an HP SCSI enclosure or Sun monitor cables. I once found two 4-GB SCSI disks in the trash and was able to make do with them for several years until I bought enough disks for a software RAID array. A consultant friend of mine was able to get four dual-processor Intergraph workstations for less than USD 300---all with 128 MB RAM, on-board Ethernet and SCSI. Even though they're Pentium-133s, Windows, Linux, and Solaris fully support the hardware and run great as domain controllers, file servers, and Unix workstations. Another guy traded me a monitor for a working SGI Indy that was loaded with memory. Make new friends and keep the old, my aunt always said.

    I have something like 20 computers in my apartment, from an old IMSAI 8080 on up to a DEC Alpha. While I'd be really hurting if I had to replace it all, I think I've purchased maybe one complete system out of the whole lot. If you're having a hard time finding racks and such, nose around the local swap meets or hamfests, contact wholesalers and salvagers, and hang out around a college data center. Somebody's bound to get rid of something useful, and most times they'll just give it away to be rid of it.

    Rev. Dr. Xenophon Fenderson, the Carbon(d)ated, KSC, DEATH, SubGenius, mhm21x16
  • Heh. Fortunately for me, my girlfriend has her own place. I doubt I'd get away with all the crap I have if I was married. :)

    Rev. Dr. Xenophon Fenderson, the Carbon(d)ated, KSC, DEATH, SubGenius, mhm21x16
  • I've got a _really_ nice rack I bought in an electronics surplus shop in Albuquerque, NM. It came from Sandia (I can tell by the colors). It has a good power distribution system (power strips) in it, a nice quiet fan and good sturdy wheels with a solid lock down thingy that locks/unlocks easily with your foot. Originally it cost several thousand dollars and I got it for $60 IIRC. I looked a long time before I found it, and I'm glad I was persistant and waited.
  • oops, hit enter by accident: real links here:
    From Smarthome: Rack Systems [] - They're for audio and computers. Check out the empty frames 'n casters.

    Cheap 4U EMPTY rack case!
    Interlogic Industries []

    My idea was to convert my standard cases into rackmounts. Not too expensive it seems. That's the cheapest 4U rack enclosure I've ever seen. Dunno if it's still a good price though.

    If anyone else has any other hints, lemme know. I'm still thinking about rack mounting to save space in my apartment.

  • There are a few companies making desks primarily for digital music workstations that have racks built in. If you've got the money, I imagine they would work real well. Check out this site []
  • Found another site [] I I'd seen, looks like they might be a little better quality. You can buy some of the models at Computers and Music [].
  • sells just the rails for racks,
    in full-height (96" or something) and half-height
    (45" or so). They're about $100 for the set of
    four rails. I just bought a set myself, I've
    got a big UPS, some hubs, and a few small boxes
    now, and plans for a 4U RAID cabinet and a 2U web
    server. Plus the spare wood from the deck my
    parents just dismantled, I figure I got a pretty
    great deal.

    - Kazin
  • Racks for musical equipment are, in fact, the same as racks for computers. You can use musical racks just fine.

    The reason they are expensive is that the demand is low, and the construction has to be pretty strong. You are, after all, mounting stuff that's usually quite expensive, and usually mounting lots of it.
  • Unless your home is wired for cat5, or you are using wireless ethernet, having rackmounted boxes in another room doesn't make sense. Most rackmount systems won't make any consideration for low power useage (Energy Star, etc.), so likely these systems aren't even appropriate for home use.
    Not entirely fair, I think. Energy concerns are valid (particularly if you live in California I guess), but if you have Unix servers at home that are supposed to act as servers (and this isn't exactly unreasonable, is it?) then you probably don't want them powering themselves down anyway.

    Then, if you take it as a given that you have these servers happily whirring and humming away, you probably do want to put them in another room from the one that you actually work/live/watch tv in.

    At risk of being on-topic, I'd say that racks are expensive largely for the same reasons that SCSI hard drives are expensive - economies of scale (or rather the lack of them).

    The coolest rack I've seen recently is the one that comes "free" with a Sun 4800. So buy one of those and stick your boxes in the spare space. Or maybe not :-)

  • Usually, you can get good modular shelves from a restaurant supply place too. Nice and simple, holds a hell of a lot of weight.

  • Hey, when you've got 19", you hear this sort of thing down at the club show all the time:


    Tough life, I know. [shrug]

  • I have my three home computers rackmounted. I did this because of the amount of desktop space 3 full systems take up, and the fact my apartments have all benn pretty small (and thusly cheap). I found a small cabinet on e-bay for about 1/2 price, I also found some nice older fiberchannel drives and enclosures pretty cheap. A good way to get easy storage for all my ummmm MP3's. Check out e-bay, and if you live in SoCal dot bomb closeouts and auctions and stuff.

  • ...that I bought at Milestek []. I bought the swing out comm rack, but its very high quality, and the DSL guy always comments on it. :)

    Usual disclaimers apply, etc etc...

  • That's what mine are - employer had two old UHF transmitters in the attic - like what was a base station for a 'radio dispatched' business of some kind - and during a clean out I asked for 'em. One now holds an old open reel Magnacord 1024 tape deck, but no computers.

  • If you are setting something up in your basement or even a spare bedroom, IMHO, they're the only way to go.

    Get to know people who work in IT at large companies. You may find that they're dumping rack enclosures. I've picked up a 19-inch and a 24-inch for nothing. The 24-incher has shelves and both have fans and doors. These were being dumped during an equipment migration project and if I didn't take them they'd have actually paid someone to come and haul them away. If you have some money... I've seen some equipment racks for sale cheap (though not cheap enough for me :-) ) in the local classified ads, usually when some company goes under. With the recent death of some dot-com companies, I suspect that some hardware will be for sale fairly cheap.

    I have been assembling my own systems since the late '80s and prefer getting rackmounted enclosures for most systems though I found that it's nice to have a smaller workstation that'll sit under the desk. You can keep most of your data on the rackmounted systems downstairs. Makes the system under your desk quieter when it doesn't have a half-dozen disks spinning in it.

    The downside of racks are that, even if you strip them down to the skeleton (removing the side panels, doors, etc.), they're a bear to haul up and down the stairs if you move. I know... I just moved and my back wasn't the same for a couple of days. Tests the strength of your friendships as well though it helps to remind folks that there's beer in the fridge when you get done shlepping the rack up the stairs.

    The other thing that's sometimes annoying is that you never have enough of the hardware for mounting equipment in the rack. As a result, you collect a bunch of incompatible clip-on nuts and screws. The one's I prefer are apparently only made by one company on the planet and available only to people representing a secret cabal of IT equipment manufacturers. And what ever screw/nut combinations you find... don't ever lose one of the screws. The local hardware store will not have exact replacements. It's incredibly annoying to have to have three different screw/nut/Torx drivers on hand to put in a pair of slide rails. Hint: if you find some mounting hardware that you like, buy a bunch of it.

    Oh yeah, one more plus: Your friends and acquantances will be assured of your being a geek when they see your rackmounted computers. Of course, if you wish to be recognized as a total geek, you'll keep the racks in the living room.


  • No, Anthrocart makes VERY nice rack carts. These are nicely mobile and very high quality.

    Kinda expensive, but you get what you pay for.

    Send lawyers, guns and money. The shit has hit the fan.

  • I have a lot of equipment in my study and I needed a better way to store it. Most shelving really isn't up to the task.

    I ended up buying industrial shelving. It's cheap (~$100 for 36" wide by 72" high with 5 shelves) Each shelf is rated to 400 lbs. I bought the grid style shelving, which means it is made up bars every 3 inches or so. That makes cabling nice and easy.

    No I don't get to screw my equipment into it, but it sits on it nicely, and even supports a Compaq DS20 without any hassle. (In fact, there are 3 other "normal" machines on the same shelf.) It isn't very pretty or very sexy, but cheap and efficient. (Think warehouse shelving)

    You can get this sort of thing at any commercial office supply place. I'm not sure if some place like OfficeDepot would have it or not.

  • I have a 10U shock-mount rack case available, if anyone's interested. The rack is spring mounted inside a sturdy fiberglass case, and it's really deep, probably 24". I picked it up from a government surplus sale.

    If anyone's interested, the first decent offer takes it. I would sell through ebay for security.
  • I have three 19 inch relay racks installed along one wall of the computer room in my house. The effect is kind of a wall of computers and audio equipment, looks great in a high tech, geeky kind of way. You can pick up AT and ATX cases in 4U and 2U sizes from several computer parts stores ( I got some of mine from Altex in Dallas) You can also pick them up cheap at computer flea markets and Ham radio conventions. The great thing about racks is I'm always adding something, rebuilding a server or something. With the racks I can always shuffle things around and make it fit. I used the open relay rack instead of the cabinets because a 72" rack can be had for as little as $100 new as opposed to a cabines which can cost thousands. You just fasten them to the floor and use ladder to brace against the wall. Do it right and it's rock solid.
    Look around in there and you'll see some nifty stuff I've got hanging from my basement ceiling. Total cost was about $10 for rails and $15 for a bag of 100 audio rack screws.
    The front unit hangs over my 4' x 8' plywood desk and gives me 14U of rack space with room to easily fit my hitachi 21" tube under it.
  • Here's a source for AV racks, many different sizes, for decent prices:
  • I managed to find a really NICE 5/6-enclosed HP 2m rack super-cheap from a company near me (in the north Dallas suburb Richardson)...includes a fan at the top, power strip, counterweights, little snap-in front filler plates, the works. They buy corporate-surplus hardware and resell it; from what my contact tells me, the racks usually end up on the scrapheap.

    The company's name is Half-Price Computers...they ought to be in the greater Dallas phone book. I can't speak for them 'cause I don't work for them, but I imagine they'd ship FOB or deliver for more money...Luckily for me, my rack fit in the back of a friend's Dodge Ram.

    The only problem I've had with the rack (aside from getting it in the door of my apartment) has been the power has one of those twist-locking 120VAC/20A connectors (I believe NEMA L5-20 is the designation), and my apartment doesn't. Landlords get peeved when you change out electrical outlets, so I'm stuck with trying to make/buy an adapter cable. Does anyone know of a place (online or otherwise) that sells those, or might sell those? Already checked Home Depot and Lowe's...they have the parts to make a cable but I'm not so good with a soldering iron that I want to risk burning down my apartment building by making my own. I know of several custom-cable places that could make one for me, but I'd rather buy off-the-shelf (or 'mass-customized' a la CafePress []) if I can...I would expect such to be significantly cheaper.

    Anyone? Anyone?

  • by Soko ( 17987 ) on Saturday July 07, 2001 @03:29PM (#101199) Homepage
    Thanks. Now I want one of them. You don't realise what you've done, do you?

    Now I need to get the Financial Manager (read:Wife) to approve purchase of one of these. This means proving that I am indeed a worthwhile investment (read: clean out the basement, cook, cut lawn etc.) and that we really do need one (see cleaning basement above). I will then have to show ROI for a while to come after installation (Hon, I know we're broke, but can I buy this dress? You got that silly LAN rack or whatever a couple of months ago...). Like I said, thanks.


  • Wood shelving at K Mart. Each shelf can hold 150 lbs. My scanner is on the bottom, computer and monitor in the middle, and external drives on top.

    Shaky if not supported though.
  • There is not a lot of engineering in one of these things. Most of the parts can be had at a good sized hardware store for a lot less than the hundreds of bucks that "real racks" cost. Granted, they won't look all shiny beige, but who cares?

  • I draw the line at discussing my sex life on Slashdot.

  • Small racks are made for network equipment such as switches and routers and hubs. Some of these racks are as cheap as $100 and come with attractive glass windows and even wooden enclosures. Many can be wall mounted or stood up on rubber feet. All of them have more than enough room to hold all of your home networking and computing toys.

    If you want to try a guitar rack, you might try or Both sites have attractive, nice racks and cabinets.
  • And has anyone successfully used racks intended for rackable musical instruments to hold servers instead?

    Never saw that exactly but I did see the inverse. My old roommate had an nice old rack surplused from a gov data center packed with tasty musical gear.

  • Try picking up used effects rack roadcases from musicians and PA hire companies. They might be a bit scratched, and not noiseproof like a glass case, but hey it makes it easier when you move house :-)

    Check out SKB [] for new ones.

    I prefer the handmade wooden ones you find around the music shops. The better ones even come with internal and/or external shock absorbers! Great for portability.
  • by adolf ( 21054 ) <> on Saturday July 07, 2001 @05:05PM (#101206) Journal
    Check local surplus houses. Mendelson Electronics ( is near enough to me that I can swing down in an afternoon, and pick up rack of almost any size for less than $100-150. Some of these are nice, half-sized racks with glass doors. They say things like "Compaq" on them.

    Buy a road case from someone like Anvil, Starcase, or SKB. They're durable. You can take them with you to a LAN party. And your equipment will be safe in transit, or as luggage on a 747, or whatever.

    Alternatively, build a rack. Parts for serious road cases and other racks (aluminum extrusions, hasps, heavy steel corners, plywood with colorful vacuum-laminated fiberglass, pre-tapped rails, etc) can be found at TCH (the URL escapes me). They seem to be the same to road cases as Black Box is to networking gear.

    Rails are also available at Parts Express (, for cheap.

    Whatever you do, be sure to compare the depth of the equipment to the depth of the rack. It might not be a big deal if the back of your server hangs out of the cabinet a few inches, unless it bothers you to look at. But it would be somewhat troublesome if the back cover for your new road case doesn't fit once it's loaded with equipment.

    Companies like Starcase and Anvil are completely willing to build custom projects, so if you -really- want something special...
  • Why, praytell would you have a RCA DirecTV receiver on top of your computer? And what's that cable that seems to be running from the HU Authentication card to the back of your machine?

    Hmmmmm.... ;)

  • Milestek has 36" or 42" enclosures. They're the std 19" size. I think they run around $450 and have locking doors. If you want to rackmount everything but dont need an enclosure, get a relay rack and cut it down to size. An 84" aluminum relay rack will cost you $120 max and could be cut down with a hack saw.
  • by Argyle ( 25623 ) on Saturday July 07, 2001 @02:21PM (#101209) Homepage Journal
    The standard 19" rack width is used accross computer, music, and broadcasting industries. You just want to make sure you are dealing with 19" rack equipment.

    The place we buy from is Pacific Radio [] in Los Angeles. More detailed info located here [] on modular racks.

    The main considerations will be heat disapation and cabling. Just make sure you have adequate airflow and are setting things up where you have cables running all over the place.
  • Do you have any recommendation on where to look for dot-com auctions? Local newspaper? Is there an online site for such listings (particularly in the SF/Bay Area).

  • Add ~$34 bucks for some pre-done rails and viola! partsexpress search for rack rail []

    Been thinking about this myself! I could skip the plywood myself.

  • Sure, rackmount might be nice to save a little space, but I have a bit of a bigger issue. I have a number of machines in my 'office,' including (no, this is not geek dick-waving, but it won't come out better any other way):
    • My primary PC (P3/800) with GeForce DDR heater, 2 disks, CDROM & CD-RW.
    • Router PC (P200 in minitower)
    • SGI Indigo2 R10000 (winner of the Best Heater award)
    • HP 9000/712
    • Sun SparcIPC
    • an 'experiment' PC (Celery 466) which gets various distros
    • 2 monitors (Sony 17" & Gateway (Sony) 15")
    • music equipment (2 synths, bass amp are the major power users)

    Keeping that room cool is a bitch. There's a ceiling fan, but even with the AC on in the place it hovers around 90. Short of sticking a thermostat in the room in question (or getting the room its own window A/C), I don't know what else to do.

    Keep in mind a rack will also concentrate a lot of that heat in one spot. You could end up with scorch marks on your ceiling. :) Be sure to keep the air flowing around and above that rack.
  • by marxmarv ( 30295 ) on Saturday July 07, 2001 @02:15PM (#101215) Homepage
    as telecom equipment. (Ain't standards wonderful?) Small racks and shipping enclosures from 2U to 12U are common but not necessarily cheap. Check your local music store or look online.


  • A lot of rack systems depend on adequate cooling.

    There's a reason that machine rooms at your job are around 60 degrees and full of fan noise...

    You can't just put a bunch of systems in a rack (especially with doors that close) and push it off into the corner and expect everything to work. These systems give off significant heat and will start to panic or the disks will fail if you don't take proper cooling precautions.

    I think some closed racks are required to have cool air pumped through them from below.
    I have friends who have mounted large open-aluminum rail-type racks in their garage with fairly good results. (kind of like these racks [])

  • As someone with three racks around the house, I'll say my reasons are:

    1) space: I have four systems that I never log into directly (firewall, web server, compute server and file/email server). It is more space efficient to have them in a rack in a corner I don't use. The noise and heat are somewhere else.

    2) heat management: Rack mount cases are typically better for heat (and nearly everything else) than desktop cases.

    3) dirt: Things in racks are typically cleaner. All the rack mount cases I own have filters which keep the insides WAY cleaner than the hairy mess your desktop case is certain to be.

    4) ease of service/change: I can have any of my rack mounted systems out and open in well under 30 seconds. Because of 2 & 3, though, I usually don't have to do that.

    5) Cable management: Rack mount hardware and switches makes keeping that rat's nest behind your computer much more manageable.

    6) Centralized UPS: With just a couple of racks of stuff that need reliable power, I have two rack mount UPSes in the racks that matter and so there isn't Yet Another Box sitting around taking up space. This also means only a couple of upsd's and only a couple of sets of batteries that need to be replaced regularly.

    7) my home is wired cat 5. Ditto wireless.

    Lots of people have differing needs, wants and hence setups. Those few of us /.ers that actually make our livings in this weird industry do *use* our computers pretty close to 24/7... and at least in my case I have no problem investing in the hardware to make my life easier.

    One more point. Rack mount stuff doesn't get technologically obsolete (mostly). The racks I'm using I purchased used and date from the 1970's. My AT cases are circa 1985 (with new guts of course). So this is pretty much a 'do it once' and not worry about it. I do hope that ATX lasts a really long time as a result...

    -- Multics

  • by Local Loop ( 55555 ) on Saturday July 07, 2001 @02:17PM (#101223)

    There are several non-standard things to be aware of when rack mounting computer equipment.

    First off is where the holes are drilled in the equipment. You may think that you can buy a 12U rack and stick 3 4U computers in it. But if you try it with different models of case or computer, you will likely find that the computers don't line up with each other correctly, meaning you may need more than 12U.

    I've rack mounted a LOT of computers, audio and video equipment and run into this constantly. The A/V equipment always fits right, but the computers are all over the place!

    Second thing is the depth. Many computer cases are deep enough that they need to be supported in the back. You'll find that there are multiple standards for how far back the back rail is supposed to be. To circumvent this, I usually forget about installing back rails (unless I have a perfectly homogenous installation), and just install side supports, either wood or metal, and bolt the computers to those.

    I highly recommend that you use slide rails. Try to get ball bearing rails rather than friction rails, becuase the friction rails frequently do not work well.

    Also if you are building your own rack out of wood, consider using the fancy ball bearing drawer slides from the kitchen dept. at Home Depot. You won't need expensive rack rails, and they can slide all the way out to let you remove the entire machine for service. The only drawback is that you'll probably have to drill your own holes to match up with the holes in the computer's chassis.

    When drilling those holes, watch out and don't get any metal shavings in the ball track!

    Good luck


  • by Myself ( 57572 ) on Saturday July 07, 2001 @05:21PM (#101224) Journal
    Data and music people use 19" racks with a channel design and uneven hole spacing. Data and music people usually put mounting flanges on the front of the equipment, so that the face of the device is flush with the face of the rack, more or less, when all is said and done. This creates a lot of force on the screws due to leverage, particularly for thin (1U or 2U) units.

    Telco people use 23" racks, with a different flange design and regular 1" hole spacing. Telco equipment has the mounting flanges in the middle of the equipment, so the only force on the screws is shear. There's very little twisting, because the weight of the equipment is centered in the rack. Almost all carrier-class equipment is designed for 23" racks and mid-mounting.

    They make adapter plates to mount 19" equipment with EIA-spaced holes into a 23" rack with WECO-spaced holes. There are also adapter brackets to move flush-mount equipment forward so it's even with mid-mount equipment.

    As the large telcos know, it's easier to put adapters in a 23" rack than it is to stretch a 19" rack.
  • It was LSD and UNIX initially. The BSD part was sort of implied.

    This was originally said 15 years ago or so, when Linus was a high-school student, and odds were good that the UNIX implementation you would see at a university was BSD or a derivative thereof.

    I've received enough grief from UNIX people in general who thought I was a VMS partisan or something. (I'm not). I don't want to be misconstrued by BSD lovers as having an axe to grind with BSD as well (I don't).

    ... But you are free to make any quote you want. My lawyers won't call...


  • The US Military is in the process of phasing out Motorola base stations. Frequently, the cabinets end up in DRMO (military junkyard). Every quarter or so, DRMO has an auction where you can bid on lots of equipment. There will be a 10~15 peices of equipment in a lot and the bidding is usually low. Several friends and I banded together and purchaced 3 HP1000's. These came in a 6-foot-high, wheel-mounted rack with front and rear doors. The rear door came with 6 120mm 120 volt fans installed...Very cool. The price was about $25 each.

    Anyway, call your local militar base and ask for DRMO. Find out when the next auction takes place.

    Remember, you paid for it (with tax dollars), so you should at least check it out.
  • check out Anthro Carts []. They've got upright racks up to 29U high, one that's as small as 37" high (probably about 15-20U), and a couple of slant racks made for home use, from 20" high to 41" high. Those would be great for smaller applications, and they're made specifically for home office use.
  • Same here. Not only for the implied geek/1337 factor, but it's an excuse to buy more equipment! "Dear, this rack looks awfully empty with that lonely gateway/server/RAID computer. I think we should find a companion!"
  • Actually, in a lot of cases, an increase in demand will result in the manufacturer creating an increase in supply so they can meet the demand. Making more of something (id est, in bulk) is actually cheaper per item than making fewer -- this is called economies of scale.

    Hence, so-called "morons" buying stuff en masse means that it will probably eventually get cheaper.

    But anyway, back on topic: my friend has an old, old wooden stereo cabinet that's actually exactly rack-width. We put rack equipment in it by drilling the appropriate holes in the wooden frame to mount things. Wooden racks like that, if built carefully, can be very sturdy. And it's much cheaper to machine wood than it is to machine metal.
  • The rack will be picked up this weekend. God bless networking (in the 1993 sense).
  • by vaxer ( 91962 ) <sylvar.vaxer@net> on Sunday July 08, 2001 @12:55PM (#101240) Homepage
    If anyone would care to pick up a 7-foot rack in Tampa, email me. Damn thing's been cluttering up my house ever since I realized my employer didn't have room for me to donate it to them.

    I'll help you push it out the door. Everything else is up to you.

    I'm serious.

  • by ToasterTester ( 95180 ) on Saturday July 07, 2001 @03:23PM (#101243)
    Because it isn't a big commodity product, so they can't spread the costs out by selling quanity. Also most racks are used in real data or telco centers and they have to meet seimic certification standards. That a lot of cost for testing and liability, but that is why all rack equipment is expensive. With all the dot-comedy crashes out there, the're lots of hardware auctions and deals to be had.
  • by matt-fu ( 96262 )
    I use an SKB 16U shock-mount rack. I spent $180 on ebay for it, and the guy who sold it to me just slapped a label on the front and shipped it. I've had it for probably 3 years now and it's awesome for computer gear. It has about 1" of space around the rack rails (which are mounted on coils) that is good for cleanly cabling the rack and for the necessary airflow for sparc hardware. You can even get casters for it.

    The only problem I've had has been finding inexpensive cases for my PCs and shelves for my nonrackable stuff.
  • by Above ( 100351 ) on Saturday July 07, 2001 @02:14PM (#101247)
    At least one of the reasons on pre-drilled racks is at pre-drilling rails is very expensive. To drill and tap a 7' rail with high precision takes expensive gear, and a lot of time. This is why racks with pop in nuts and the like are so much cheaper, but if you've ever worked with them you know they are a huge pain.
  • actually ... write music for my (ain't makin a dime) audio production company, thehumbleguys :)

    I suppose a more accurate title would have been "A computer person with an amateur DJ's problem"

  • by Tom7 ( 102298 ) on Saturday July 07, 2001 @01:52PM (#101251) Homepage Journal
    Here's a question for you:

    Why are racks so damn expensive?
    They're just hunks of metal, and yet the ones I always see cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Even those seem unfinished (barbs and sharp bits everywhere); to get a *nice* rack you have to spend even more.

    What's the deal? Is the market so small that they can charge this much, or is there some secret process in the manufacturing that makes it so expensive?
  • Vax cabinets are also a good source of rack space.. Nice sturdy, interesting power supplies built-in .. and possibly a nice, 8" 300Meg SMD hard disk drive thrown in for good measure.
  • Back when I had an ISDN router (about 12"x1"x6") I just mounted it underneath to the bottom of a bookshelf in my office. Just got a couple slats of wood under the router, some wood blocks a few inches taller than the router, and screwed 'em in there. The router slipped in 'n' out no problem (not that I ever had to do anything with it...)
  • Why the hell is a question which has been asked many many times on the front page, while the story about the BSA [] that would actually interest most of us is hidden off in Ask Slashdot?
  • I've got a rackmount er, rack, here - it can hold about 20U of devices, atm it has 3 4U PC boxes (canibalised systems, easier to fit into 4U's).

    It's got space under the rack bracket for my two full tower I just need to make up something so I can mount my 1603R in it - damn Cisco making 19" rackmount routers way to expensive.

    Anyway it's made by NexelShelf [] It's the EIA Rack on that page.

    pic of my one in action [] :)

    What I'd really like is a full height server enclosure from Rittal :)


  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Saturday July 07, 2001 @02:10PM (#101261) Journal

    What consenting adults do behind closed doors is their own business.

  • by aozilla ( 133143 ) on Sunday July 08, 2001 @07:46AM (#101263) Homepage

    Why the hell is a question which has been asked many many times on the front page, while the story about the BSA that would actually interest most of us is hidden off in Ask Slashdot?

    Hmm, take a look at the top of your screen. See that ad for cheap rack units? VA Linux has tons and tons of rack mounted hardware they have to get rid of, and they're obviously trying to drum up interest in people buying this stuff up for home use.

  • I went searching around at electronics surplus stores (Active surplus in toronto is where I got a lot of stuff) and found old rack mount cases for my AT style stuff.
    For my newer machines, I just made shelves inside the case and layed the machines on horizontally. The same goes for my sun machines.

    Also, if you want a cheap enclosure to hold all the rack mount gear, look for someone who is selling an old unix server case. That's what I did, and now all my stuff are inside of a Sparc Center 2000E case. The processing power inside of it is more than the origional server had. And, IMHO, it looks good too.

  • they have cool racks that go with their gear designs ers_000_rack.htm []
  • by cfreeze ( 146454 ) on Saturday July 07, 2001 @02:29PM (#101276) Homepage
    Here is a URL for a story on this topic from back in January.
  • by e_n_d_o ( 150968 ) on Saturday July 07, 2001 @02:41PM (#101278)
    I've been having so much trouble trucking my 10 disk RAID array to LAN parties!

  • I feel your pain brother.

    Substitue shoes for dress and LAN rack for hard drive and I'd swear I was the victim of that same conversation last week. 8^)

    Is nice to know that there are certain constants in the Universe yes?

  • I have a bunch of rackmount equipment, and not one rack. Why? I just never saw the need. My rackmount switch is lying vertically against my router. A rackmount server can fit on a shelf.

    It's really more compact (though maybe not as neat) to put rackmounted stuff wherever you have a niche for them, rather than setting aside an entire block of space.
  • I'm seeing maybe several hundred dollars to reverse that rack job. (Materials and labour, including the white paint that appears to be on the surrounding walls.) So if that actually does damage to a home's resale value... well, it must be a really really freaking cheap home!

    Anyways, that rack is really hardcore, man. I love it. Watchen das blinkenlights...
  • by atheos ( 192468 ) on Saturday July 07, 2001 @03:31PM (#101294) Homepage
    You can always just put the rack into your wall like I did. [url][/u rl]
  • Look for racks meant to house audio gear. There are different types to choose from, including road cases w/ casters and covers [], ATA-rated flight cases [],shock mounted [],open framed with casters [],nicely finished wood, some with built in fans... etc. You can find them used fairly easily.

    You should make sure that you have adequate ventilation though (add a fan or five if necessary) - these are generally meant to be enclosed, and I've seen LCD displays (the small type on audio gear) go bad just from the heat generated by the equipment.

    Also - check the depth on the rack before you buy... most audio equipment isn't as long as some of the computer gear you might mount.

    Or, make your own []. Watch the weight though!

  • When I was a guitar tech, I would just buy the rack hardware and build my own cabinet. You can buy the rails (the parts that the rack mount gear screws into) at just about any music supplier. Next, cut your sides and such with a table saw and assemble. I used to make some items that looked more like furniture such as a rack hidden in an end table or coffee table.

    If it's for home use, make it a bit more furniture like. Your woman of the house will complain much less.

    bm :)-~

  • by wirzcat ( 221710 ) on Saturday July 07, 2001 @02:08PM (#101306)
    If you live near Seattle, then the best source for used racks of all sizes is Boeing Surplus. They have singles, doubles, and triples and lots of hardware. Halfs are rare. Most are $50-100.

    Most are in good shape and blue. I have a single in my garage and run everything remote.
  • Supply and Demand.

    This is the same reason I can charge 90 an hour for webdesign if I want. People pay what you ask if you supply the service they need.

    The Lottery:
  • Watch out for the skb cases. They are shallower than many other full size rack cases. This tends not to be problem with the full size 4U cases, but the 2U server cases are much deeper, so that back cover has to be permanently off. Also, because they don't use true threaded rack rail and the rail is aluminum, not steel, you are more likely to overload and bend the rail.

    On the other hand, I love my SKB. A 4U ATX case from ebay, a rock solid power amp, EQ, processing, and power conditioner all in one neatly wired black cube. Snap both covers on and I can easily move the whole system anywhere.

    Now if only I could find a cheap, ergonomic rack mountable monitor.

  • Off the top of my head...

    • 4 2x4x8' = $8
    • 1 panel sheetrock = $15
    • 1 can white paint = $20
    • small package of nails = $5
    • small package of drywall screws = $5

    Of course, I'm a tad rusty on prices, but that should be pretty accurate. And if he's talented enough to make the hole and wire it up, then he's probably talented enough to repair it.

  • Yeah, that looks nice - could do with some tidying up on the RHS and some more kit to actually justify the thing... otherwise, pretty schweet.

    Is that a 12-port 10/100 Bay switch I see there, below the patch panel? How many actual boxen do you have - are you ever likely to actually fill the rack up?

    I have a [day]dream of getting together 3-4 geeks and building the hacienda, uh, that is, the ultimate geekhaus... pooling the cost of a *real* net connection (none o' that cable modem crap!), proper cabling, LAN parties, no need to actually *speak* to one's housemates - just IRC them...

    One day. *sigh*
    "I'm not downloaded, I'm just loaded and down"

  • You can get general equipment racks that size, they're just really hard to come across. Because smaller racks aren't in high demand, they are harder to find and more expensive than a standard (19 inch wide) 72in. Rack. I saw 72inch open relay's going as cheap as $120 ( from APC, the UPS company, turns out they make racks too, check their website they have pictures), while I finally got my 48inch at $200 ( aluminum, black finish from ). I saw a few nice models from hammond inc. [ ] but they were impossible to find at retailers, and the webstore was out as well. I guess you can always buy a taller open relay rack and cut it. Chatsworth is another company you can look for.

    I got one for my home lab. It's a 48in. rack open frame equipment rack ( basically 2 poles with holes in them attached to a metal plate at the bottom, they're much more accessible and cheaper than the enclosures ). I also got the cool thumb screws from I add/remove components all the time without the use of a screwdriver.

    Look on ebay as well. There are rack models sometimes called "table top racks" . They are usually very cheap, as low as about $40 bucks and I've seen them on ebay for less. they look small and flimsy but should get as tall as about 8U I think

  • I work for a very small company in Wyoming, we have only a 64k Frame relay line and a few users, no reason for a large rack. I bought this wall mounting cabinet that holds 19" equipment and it has worked great. It has a nice smoked fiberglass front window and swings open from the back or front of the unit. There are cable holes on both the top and bottom. The unit locks with 2 different keys in the front and back. It was simple to mount, just put some heavy gauge bolts in the studs and you're all set. It may be a bit large for home use, depending on what you need. You can buy it [] from Cables to Go [].

    There are two major products that come out of Berkeley: LSD and BSD. We don't believe this to be a coincidence.
  • When GSAT went under, my (ex)company bought some 8 foot racks for $500, they sell for $2000+ otherwise. This 19" monitor was $50, and this Sparc was $50. We got a ton of shit including a HUGE Xlyan switch/chassis and a Packetshaper CHEEP.
  • Try Radioshack's Sloped-top floor rack []. 28 spaces (12 slope, 16 bottom) Front and rear rails, casters (two locking). Can't beat the price, it looks cool and has wheels..

    look at my fishtank cam [] , powered by linux, php, mysql & apache

  • by eoinatstraylight ( 465891 ) on Saturday July 07, 2001 @05:39PM (#101359)
    The following addresses may be of use for anyone wishing to buy individual rackmountable cases:

    Digital Networks UK Ltd

    Pro Computers & Industrial Case Ltd

    Sight Systems Ltd


    Personally, I bought an ATX case, and separate drive case from Sight Systems, cost under 500ukp, and you can even choose the colour!

    Personally, I went for the rather nifty black ones, though if you are so inclined pantone-414C is still available. That's beige to you and me. ;)

    The quality was excellent, far in advance of standard pc cases including vibration dampening, and not a sharp edge anywhere to be seen!

    The cabinet an (18u including acrylic door) made by proel and purchaced through a high-street music store was 220ukp (including VAT and delivery).

"Call immediately. Time is running out. We both need to do something monstrous before we die." -- Message from Ralph Steadman to Hunter Thompson